Posted on 23/09/2020

#Culture #Peru

Discover Peru through ten delicious dishes

It's not a secret that Peruvian cuisine is considered to be one of the richest and most varied in the world. The variety of ingredients and influences of several civilizations, such as the Inca, the Spanish and the Chinese, have made this cuisine a favorite among foodies. Beyond Machu Picchu or the Nazca Lines, food has become a major attraction of the Andean country so let's take a tour of the most popular Peruvian dishes that have captivated the palates of millions!

Peruvian fish ceviche

Peruvian fish ceviche © Larisa Blinova/123RF

This dish is without a doubt the most famous Peruvian culinary speciality in the world. It's usually served with corn, roasted corn, cassava, sweet potato, lettuce and green banana chips. The star of this delectable favorite is fish - which is either served raw, or in a marinade of lime juice and red onion. To put it simply, this fish ceviche is known as the sashimi of the Andean country. Although many South American countries, like Chile or Ecuador, prepare their own special ceviches, this particular dish's origins go back to the Inca empire and the recipe was modified after the arrival of the Spanish conquerors. The history of this ceviche is as deep as its flavors and is considered to be an integral part of the country's national heritage.

Ají de gallina

Ají de gallina © Larisa Blinova/123RF

This creamy spiced chicken is another famed traditional dish in Peru. It consists of a cream or a yellow chili pepper with generous pieces of shredded chicken breast. The chicken is usually served with cooked potatoes, white rice and a sliced egg. According to food experts, this dish dates back to the pre-Columbian period and it was originally made with a close relative of the hen, called the hualpa. Nowadays, this speciality is considered to be a fusion of the Spanish and Quechua cuisines and its origins may come from a popular medieval European dish called "manjar blanco" - a creamy mixture of chicken, almonds, sugar and rice.

Pan con chicharrón

Pan con chicharrón © cokemomo/123RF

Almost every cuisine has a sandwich that is to die for and this pork sandwich will blow you away. You can find this tasty treat in every corner of Peru and it's one of a kind. Pan con chicharron is a high-calorie sandwich made with pork, fried bacon strips, orange sweet potato and rocoto, which is a special kind of pepper. The fillings are topped with a salsa criolla that is made with red onions, salt, lemon juice, chili, coriander and oil. They use a French bread to put it all together. This sandwich is typically eaten for breakfast but don't worry, it sells like hotcakes throughout the day as well.

Lomo saltado

Lomo saltado © ildipapp/123RF

Here is another peruvian essential that you need to try - the Lomo saltado. Between the 19th and 20th century, Peru saw an influx of Chinese-Cantonese immigrants. Consequently, the Chinese and Peruvien creole cuisines began to mix and created a new type of cuisine known as the chifa. Lomo Saltado is a much loved chifa dish and is made with strips of beef that is sautéed in a wok with several vegetables. It comes with a side of rice and french fries. The name of this dish came from the technique of cooking in a wok. Now this dish is one of the most classic dishes of the Inca country and you can find it in almost all the Peruvian restaurants.

Causa rellena

Causa rellena © Larissa Blinova/123RF

A meal in Peru would be incomplete without this savory starter. Causa rellena was created in the capital city of Lima but has spread all over Peru. It is made from potatoes, lemon juice, avocado, chili, lettuce, boiled eggs and black olives. The filling is varied and you can use tuna, chicken, seafood or white meats - they'll all go perfectly with the potato discs. These scrumptious layers are topped with a dollop of mayonnaise for presentation and there you go! It's a dish that thrives on simplicity without compromising on flavour.

Anticuchos

Anticuchos © cokemomo/123RF

Every country has their own grilled meats and the Anticuchos is Peru's favorite meat skewer. Traditionally the Peruvians put pieces of heart on the skewer, but if that's not up your alley, they also make it with regular pieces of beef. This is a dish that is in the heart of every celebration and family gathering. It was created by the African slaves that were brought to Peru during the times of Viceroyalty. They made this dish after being inspired by a pre-Columbian recipe and then put their own twist to it. However these skewers are present in other territories as well, but they differ in meat and flavour. In countries located along the Andes Mountains, like Bolivia, Chile and Argentina, the skewers were made with llama meat that was seasoned with chilli, spices and aromatic herbs.

Tacu tacu

Tacu tacu © hannleonphoto/123RF

Another speciality invented by the African slaves in Peru is Tacu tacu. They used leftovers to prepare this copious dish and now there are different variations that exist. It's primarily made with rice and vegetables like beans and lentils. They're mixed together and then heated or fried in a frying pan. Tacu tacu comes from the quechua word "takuy" which means to mix one thing with another. You can serve the rice with egg, breaded meat, pork loin or chicken. A popular variant of this dish, called the Tacu tacu montado, has a fried beef fillet and eggs.

Olluquito con charqui

Olluquito con charqui © hannleonphoto/123RF

Would you believe us if we said that one of the most popular dishes in Peru was created around 1800 BC? This ancient delicacy is still enjoyed today by locals and tourists alike. The Olluquito con charqui uses two staple ingredients found in the Andean country - potato and dried llama or alpaca meat. The dish is served with rice and seasoned with parsley, coriander, chilli, cumin and onion. During the time of the Inca empire, this dish was considered to be a favorite of the court and it continues to be a favorite for anyone who devours it.

Picante de cuy

Picante de cuy © Pablo Hidalgo/123RF

This dish, though delicious, may surprise a few travellers. Picante de cuy is a guinea pig delicacy and is highly appreciated in Peruvian gastronomy. The guinea pig they use for cooking resembles that of the guinea pigs that live in the Andes and it can weigh upto one kilogram. Apart from being a tasty meat, it's also an excellent source of low-fat protein. These little animals are normally doused in a range of spices like cumin, garlic and pepper. Along with the spices, they add peanuts and a meat broth to elevate the dish. The picante de cuy normally comes with a side of potatoes. It may be intimidating at first, but this is an authentic dish that will give you a taste of Peruvian cuisine at its core.

Chupe de camarones

Chupe de camarones © cokemomo/123RF

Chupe de camarones is a typical culinary speciality of the Arequipa region and they are traditionally served in lunch-time restaurants called picanterias. This Andean soup goes back several centuries in time and the modern version is filled with a mixture of local ingredients. The Spanish conquerors brought with them milk and fresh cheese which was then added to the soup. Chupe de camarones is a very wholesome meal with prawns or shrimp, potatoes, rice, eggs and a slice of corn. It's comfort food at it's best!

Bonus track: Papas a la huancaína

Bonus track: Papas a la huancaína © Hans Geel/123RF

Here's an extra special dish that we recommend to everyone visiting the lovely country of Peru. Peruvian cuisine has some amazing starters and this is one of them. Papa a la huancaina is a dish that comes from the province of Huancayo. Some say that this delicacy was the food of the people who worked in the Peruvian Central Railway from Lima to Huancayo and others say that it was offered to passengers during their journey to this mountain town. Nevertheless, this potato dish is a must-try! It's made with boiled potatoes, hard boiled eggs and slivers of black olives. These ingredients are then covered in a sauce made with fresh cheese and yellow pepper. Papas a la huancaina is a cheesy, savory delight that you cannot miss out on!